Suddenly chief customer officers (CCOs) are everywhere. Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Boeing, Allstate, Oracle and Dunkin’ Brands each have one.
The job of the CCO seems pretty intuitive — to determine what makes the customer happy, then convince the C-suite to give it to them.
So I thought, what better business to benefit from a CCO than The Gazette, a communication organization, right? But, as this is Iowa and not Illinois, I could see us deciding to start small.
Instead of having our CCO shepherd the concerns and wishes of the audience for our entire operation, it might be concluded she should begin with just one employee.
After several weeks of meeting with readers as well as poring over my weekly Business 380 columns and the business stories I’ve edited for The Gazette, the CCO — let’s call her Ms. Trendingdata — and I would have our first official tete-a-tete.
“My focus groups show you do have a core of regulars readers who are aware of your column every Sunday,” she might begin.
“Well, that’s good,” I’d reply hesitantly, suspecting a trap. “Isn’t it?”
“Yes, but I do have some … um, suggestions … that have come from my conversations,” she’d continue, consulting her notes. “For one thing, a few readers commented that some weeks you’re quoting serious-minded economists from major universities and think-tanks, then the next you’re writing about Cary Grant and Hedy Lamarr.”
“That’s what I call the big-tent theory,” I’d say, feeling on relatively safe ground. “To bring more readers to the business pages, folk who might not otherwise look there, I’ve tried to introduce some topics on a lighter note, if you see what I mean.”
“I think,” Trendingdata finally would say, closing her notebook, “we need to work on your delivery.”
“My ‘delivery’? You mean my punchlines?”
“No, your actual delivery. How readers receive your column.
“I thought, starting next week, we could try some new methods to contact readers more directly.”
“You mean, like take up a paper route?” I’d ask.
“We’re thinking you could call your readers. On the telephone.”
“What, all four of them?”
“You could read each of them your column. This way, our customers could tell you right then what they think of that week’s column.
“You’d be proactive,” she’d smile in what probably would be intended as a “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” inclusive moment.
“This newspaper reaches a lot of people,” I’d point out. “And our readers already have suffered through months of annoying, out-of-the-blue intrusions at home from callers who think they should be leader of the free world.
“Can’t we come up with some other idea?” I’d implore, hoping she’d detect the sincerity in my earnest blue eyes.
And, indeed, the CCO and I surely would come up with a compromise. So, soon, somewhere in the Corridor you’d find me.
I’d be the fellow waving the big sign: “Will opine for feedback.”
Specific street corners still to be determined.